To watch broadcast television in America during the summer of 2021 is to be bombarded by Covid-19 advertisements. The commercials usually come in two forms. First, corporations tell Americans that, ‘We all came through the pandemic together’ and also, ‘We’re here for you now.’ This is a sentimental advertising ploy designed to pull the heartstrings.
The second kind of advertisements come from state and local governments, imploring viewers to get vaccinated. The pitches are usually delivered by an always diverse battery of doctors, scientists and public health officials in lab coats assuring viewers that the trio of vaccines available in America are safe and effective. The effort goes all the way to the top. This Wednesday President Biden appeared at a CNN town hall and spent the opener cajoling Americans to get vaccinated.
Despite the deluge of public service announcements and non-stop prodding, the Biden Administration failed to make its July 1st vaccination deadline. The Administration promised to vaccinate 70 percent of the US population, but on July 1st only 54 % of Americans had received at least one vaccine dose. There’s plenty of reasons for ‘vaccine hesitancy’. The phenomenon is nothing new and dates back to the first vaccines administered in the 18th and 19th centuries. Fueled by junk science, there’s been an undercurrent of vaccine skepticism in America for two decades now.
In 2021, the hesitant point out that the trio of American vaccines were developed in record time and are being administered with emergency use authorization but without the full approval of the Food and Drug Administration. Biden tried to address the FDA approval issue at the CNN townhall, but as is typical of the president, his explanation was garbled. After several stumbles he finally concluded, ‘We know why all the drugs approved are not permanently approved but temporarily approved. That’s underway too. I expect that to occur quickly.’
Having badly missed its vaccine target, the Biden Administration lashed out, blaming Facebook and other social media platforms for spreading ‘misinformation’ about vaccines. ‘We’re flagging problematic posts for Facebook that spread disinformation,’ said White House Spokesperson Jen Psaki. The administration identified persons it says are spreading vaccine misinformation. ‘There's about 12 people who are producing 65 percent of vaccine misinformation on social media platforms,’ said Psaki. She called on Facebook and other platforms to take down misleading posts. She also said that if someone is banned from one social media platform, they should be banned from others.
The Biden Administration is also blaming Fox News for the vaccination rate miss. Primetime hosts like Tucker Carlson have asked questions about vaccine effectiveness and safety. Critics can blame skeptics like Tucker Carlson all they want. But this week the vaccination rate among African Americans (an unlikely pool for Tucker Carlson viewers) stands at 24.7 percent. Still the White House has been having ‘high-level conversations between it and Fox News regarding their coverage of the pandemic and vaccines,’ according to cable news rival CNN. Several prominent Fox News hosts have urged viewers to get vaccinated.
With vaccination rates lagging, the Covid-19 Delta Variant is making its way through the United States. Both infections and infection rates have risen sharply. Most of the rise in Covid-19 infections (97 percent) comes from the ranks of the unvaccinated, but vaccinated persons too have been contracting the disease. As of this writing, here in New Jersey the infection rate stands at 1.40, any number above 1 means the infection is spreading. This week governor Phil Murphy announced that vaccines are 99% effective against Covid-19. There has been a total of 3,747 breakthrough cases, where someone who has been vaccinated is later infected. Overall 49 fully vaccinated New Jersians have died from Covid-19, more than half had a comorbidity and all were over the age of 50. This week hospitalizations in the state are up 62% over the previous week. Overall New Jersey’s fully or partially vaccinated rate stand at 64.7 percent, among the best rates in the nation.
Amid the Covid Wars, normal politics continue apace. Last week 50 Democrat members of the Texas House of Representatives fled the state to deny the legislature the necessary quorum (or majority) for passing an election security bill. At this time, Republicans are moving two bills through the Texas legislature. These bills require voter ID for absentee ballots, either a driver’s license or social security number. They ban 24-hour voting, drive through voting, and mass mailing of unsolicited ballots. The bills also mandate access for poll watchers throughout ballot counting facilities.
The Texas Democrats fled the state with great fanfare and acclaim in the press. They posted selfies of themselves on buses to the airport, and on their aircraft bound for Washington D.C. In Washington the Texas Democrats did numerous television interviews and even met Vice President Kamala Harris. Now a half dozen members of the Texas House delegation have contracted Covid-19 as have staffers in the White House and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s office. As the Delta Variant spreads, they’re going to make us wear masks again, aren’t they?